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Bid to turn pub into home wins support
Buy this photo » The Fox Inn at Stanton Harcourt
AN East Oxford cycle shop owner should be given permission to turn a rural pub into his dream home despite concerns, a council report says.
Nasser Salehi, 60, who runs Cycloanalysts in Cowley Road, bought the closed Fox Inn at Stanton Harcourt to retire to.
But he needs permission from West Oxfordshire District Council today to change its official use.
A planning officer said he should get permission as the pub has struggled in recent years and would be unlikely to turn a profit.
But Stanton Harcourt Parish Council and two residents have opposed the plan.
Mr Salehi said: “I had been looking for a place in the countryside with a bit of garden when this came along.
“I thought it would be an ideal situation to go there and resurrect the building – it is in a desperate state of disrepair – and make it my home.”
Admiral Taverns has tried to sell the pub since 2009 and closed it in June, selling it to Mr Salehi and wife Julia-Ann in August.
The application says people value services like pubs and Post Offices but do not necessarily want to use them “on a consistent and sustainable basis”.
This left the pub with a debt of £10,296 in 2010/11 as tougher drinking laws and changing habits hit profits, it said.
Mr Salehi said he had seen “nothing but support” from villagers to take over and restore the house.
The council report said the pub had been failing for some time and profits had dwindled significantly and urged councillors to back the plan.
The low number of letters opposing the move support this, it said.
Objections, though, said trade had been hit by an “unsympathetic attitude” from most tenants running the pub.
And one said: “It may be possible to turn around the commercial fortunes of the pub”.
The parish council questioned claims of “substantial support” from villagers to turn it into a home.
Three people told the council to approve the plan.
Parish council chairman Charles Mathew told the Oxford Mail: “We are very concerned about losing another source of employment in the village.
“We would prefer that there was a further chance given to it to remain in a commercial capacity.”
This could be as a shop, for example, he said.
It follows similar plans to turn county pubs into homes.
Councillors have recently won battles to stop the development of the Chester Arms in Iffley Fields, the Quart Pot in Milton-under-Wychwood and the Bishop Blaize in Burdrop. Owners said the pubs were no longer viable.
The lowlands area planning sub-committee will consider the plan at the district council’s Woodgreen, Witney, offices at 2pm.